‘Killers of the Flower Moon': First Reactions Applaud Scorsese Though ‘Mythic Sweep of the Book’ Missing
The biggest film of the Cannes Film Festival, especially for folks with little interest in the commercial side of the movie industry, was arguably Martin Scorsese’s “Flowers of the Killer Moon.” The long-awaited and much-discussed adaptation of David Grann’s “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” features both current Scorsese mainstay Leonardo DiCaprio and former Scorsese muse Robert De Niro, alongside Jesse Plemons and breakout star Lily Gladstone.
The picture, a 3.5-hour epic detailing a crime spree that was meant to undercut prosperous Native Americans who had benefited from oil deposits underneath their land, comes courtesy of Apple but will first get a conventional global theatrical release courtesy of Paramount.
The Eric Roth-penned adaptation will open in limited release on Oct. 6, where it could shatter box office records for per-theater averages, prior to its Oct. 20 wide release.
As always, the flurry of first reactions out of a major red carpet or festival screening should be taken with a grain of salt. Compare, just this week, the immediate reactions to “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Dial of Destiny” with the mixed-negative reviews that dropped hours later.
However, judging by the rave review courtesy of TheWrap’s chief film critic, Tomris Laffly — she calls it “vast and vital in its scale and emotional scope, a Western-thriller that is every bit a Scorsese crime picture as one can dare to imagine”.” — there may not be much daylight between the initial tweets and the more thought-out reactions.
The feature was lauded as another standout for Scorsese while not possibly being his best ever and the prodigious runtime seemingly was not a problem. Freelance writer Martyn Conterio said, “It’s top tier Marty.”
However, the first criticism of Scorsese — a white man — directing a tale about Indigenous peoples is apparently hard to ignore, according to Collider features editor Therese Lacson. “I question if Scorsese is the right person to tell this story. With a third act stumble, it’s far from perfect, but still a strong showing.” Regardless, praise is going out to actress Lily Gladsone who Discussing Film senior film critic Yasmine Kandil calls “the soul of the film.” IndieWire’s David Ehrlich also gave praise to Leonardo DiCaprio, calling his turn in the feature as “the best performance of his life.”
But while the praise for the film is positive overall, there are critiques and an overall muted response. In that same Tweet, Ehrlich said Scorsese film “misses the mythic sweep of [Grann’s] book.” FirstShowing editor Alex Billington called the film “utterly dark and depressing” and that it’s “another Scorsese mobster movie.” Toronto Star movie critic Peter Howell said, “Scorsese tests our patience but delivers the goods.”
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You can read more reactions below.
Killers of the Flower Moon – Another Scorsese mobster movie, this time about how greed & white supremacy drained this Native American reservation – Osage County. Utterly dark & depressing throughout most of it until Jesse Plemons shows up to wrangle up some criminals. #Cannes2023 pic.twitter.com/rL7UfNfROe
— Alex B. @ #Cannes2023
(@firstshowing) May 20, 2023
Killers of the Flower Moon: Leonardo DiCaprio gives the best performance of his life in a frequently great Scorsese epic that misses the mythic sweep of the book but succeeds instead as a toxic love story.
my #Cannes2023 review: https://t.co/6gj2girkpo pic.twitter.com/0gg2LRJumB
— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) May 20, 2023
KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON is utterly exceptional & more gripping with every minute. An honest adaptation about the complexities of abuse faced by Osage Indians. Lily Gladstone is the soul of the entire film, delivering an astonishing performance with simply her eyes #Cannes2023 pic.twitter.com/YWIBebGayx
— yasmine kandil (@filmwithyas) May 20, 2023
KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON: a slow dance of power, betrayal and exploitation in a country consumed by envy and greed. Scorsese’s direction is masterful beyond words: the painterly shots, the tempo, the humanity, his emotional attachment to the story… Extraordinary #Cannes2023
— FilmLand Empire (@FilmLandEmpire) May 20, 2023
KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON: An exceptional opening act later dwindles into typical Scorsese gangster fashion; DICAPRIO and GLADSTONE are both magnetic. Needs more restraint to fully feel like an accomplished work. Still, a beautifully crafted Scorsese piece. #Cannes2023 pic.twitter.com/V11lHfMUbI
— David Cuevas is a Cannes 76’ Man
(@ticktockanimate) May 20, 2023
#KillersOfTheFlowerMoon earns its runtime as a look into a horrific era in America’s past. The leading cast all have powerful performances. I question if Scorsese is the right person to tell this story. With a third act stumble, it’s far from perfect, but still a strong showing. pic.twitter.com/aGrOZxdGkC
— therese lacson • 宋蕾蕾 @ cannes (@bamfpire) May 20, 2023
Just as rousing and cumulatively shattering as I’d hoped: KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON streamlines David Grann’s text and conjures a rabid tour the force that makes those hours fly by. Did not expect that final cameo, which made it all more poignant. #Cannes2023 pic.twitter.com/jlPSa7gYr9
— Leonardo Goi @Cannes (@LeonardoGoi) May 20, 2023
No movie has any business being over 3 hours long, but "Killers of the Flower Moon" is the rare exception. Deeply compelling subject matter and a visual delight. Finally, a Cannes breakout star in Lily Gladstone, and De Niro and DiCaprio's chemistry is off the charts. #Cannes2023
— Manori (@manori_r) May 20, 2023
KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON: Scorsese tests our patience but delivers the goods. His fact-based murder epic, white “wolves” preying upon Indigenous Oklahomans in the ’20s, is rich in awards-worthy performances from Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone. #Cannes2023 pic.twitter.com/gJpxG234XB
— Peter Howell
(@peterhowellfilm) May 20, 2023
Killers of the Flower Moon: Scorsese’s exemplary adaptation of Grann’s true crime book ingeniously shifts genres over 3 hrs and 26 mins while maintaining its core theme of burning betrayal. It’s top tier Marty. Especially loved De Niro and Gladstone in their roles #Cannes2023
— Martyn Conterio (@martynconterio) May 20, 2023
KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON is my new favourite #Cannes2023 film! Scorsese is delivers a potent, stunning epic that never feels as long as it is. A masterclass in filmmaking from the best director alive, with flawless performances from the entire cast.#Cannes2023 pic.twitter.com/PdalDRAU5g
— Serena @ Cannes (@ohno_notuagain) May 20, 2023
KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON confirms the last decade may be my favourite era of Martin Scorsese's filmography. It's a sterling film about the ugliness of white violence, packs 2 tremendous performances in Gladstone and De Niro, and ends with a completely perfect coda #Cannes2023
— Rory Doherty (he/him) (@roryhasopinions) May 20, 2023